It may take two to tango but sometimes it takes a squadron of pros to help build healthy romantic relationships. That is why each month Chemistry.com invites top notch dating experts and writers to share their tactics and opinions on matters of the heart. Today’s guest post is by dating expert Bobbi Palmer. She is THE dating and relationship coach for women over 40 and founder of the site, Date Like A Grown Up.

Whether 2011 was your first year without someone to kiss at midnight, or your twenty-first, 2012 can be your time for love. It can be, that is, if you do just one thing differently: be a more selfish dater. Sounds crazy, but it’s true. Most men and women can benefit from focusing more on themselves when dating. Not only will it make you happier, it will lead you to better relationships.

USA Today published an article by Stacey Kaiser, titled “Pass the “Narcissist Test.” In it she clears up the notion that thinking about oneself first is negative or unattractive. It’s actually the opposite. Ms. Kaiser writes “There is a big difference between taking care of yourself and being self-absorbed. A person who takes good care of him/herself is one who has more to give back to others. A narcissist, on the other hand, has neither the skills nor, more importantly, much desire to do so.”

Here are  four ways that taking care of yourself first can make you more attractive to others while helping you attract better quality people.

1.  Fall in love with yourself.

A single man I know once said: if a woman doesn’t seem to love herself, why should I love her? That makes sense. Kind, mature, relationship-minded men and women are attracted to confident people who believe in their self-worth. Simply said: confidence is sexy.

When you are in touch with what you have to offer a partner and the world, and when you can express it, you become attractive to others. Believing that you are deserving of love is essential to attracting the right people and making good choices in dating.

Tip: Make a list of all the things you love about yourself. Give yourself permission to brag! Ask trusted friends and family members to help.

2.  Know what you want and don’t want.

If you are looking for someone to share your life, s/he needs to be more than just a good date. In order to judge that, you need to be crystal clear on the person and relationship that will make you happy. You should also know what you absolutely do not want. The best partnerships are between two people who choose each other based on how happy the other person makes them. That’s not selfish; it’s smart. What do you truly need to feel happy, safe and loved the rest of your life? Get that clarity and see how you start becoming a much better man-picker and lady-attractor.

Tip: A simple list of adjectives does not appropriately tell you what you want in a partner. Rather, make a list of feelings you want to have and then translate those feelings to behaviors to look for. Be sure, too, to do the same for your deal breakers.

3.  First be sure you like them.

Many approach dates thinking “I hope s/he likes me.” That’s the wrong place to start. This gets you caught up in trying to figure out what someone else is thinking instead of what you are thinking and feeling. Your experience matters first.

This is one of the most freeing things I learned when I was single, and one of the very first things I pass on to my clients and my friends. It stops you from trying to read the other person’s mind so you can focus on what really counts: how you feel and if they seem like a good match for you.

Tip: In the future, before you meet a potential partner, say to yourself “I hope I like him/her and wait for the answer. Do this before you start worrying about how they feel about you.

4.  Know your boundaries and how to communicate them.

As you are out there dating, it’s important to take control of the process. (Notice I didn’t say the people; just the process.) Boundaries provide you with a roadmap that tells you where you can and can not go, and what you will and will not do as you traverse through your journey. Setting, communicating and maintaining your boundaries in dating are key to making healthy choices, staying safe and enjoying an overall positive experience.

Tip: Ask yourself questions like: What do I need to make me happy? How must I act in order to retain my self-respect and dignity? What will I not tolerate in myself or in others? Write these down and then learn how to communicate them in a clear yet non-demanding way.

 Tired of looking for love in all the wrong places?

 

Want to learn a little more about yourself and men? Take  Bobbi Palmer’s  Man-O-Meter test. Answer 10 questions and get real-life tips and advice!

  • Innocentbystander00

    Great article. It’s sometimes hard to remember that at first you should think more about if you like them than if they like you, if only to save a lot of needless worry. I think that may be harder to remember when you’re older and think you have fewer opportunities, so this was a good reminder.

  • Shari

    Hi Bobbi!
    Your advice about knowing the “feelings I want to feel” instead of the “qualities I want in a man” absolutely changed my choices of men I continued dating. In fact, this was the deal breaker for all but one of the men I was interested in. When I wrote my list of how I felt when I was with him and how I felt not with him, the revealing info was astonishing. I realized that I was feeling some very unpleasant feelings with a couple of the guys who were really hot, sexy, successful and that I just didn’t want those kind of feelings for the rest of my life… so I crossed them off my list and off my heart. Instead I dated only the one man who really invited comfortable feelings that I want to feel. Sure, he’s not perfect and I’m not either, but what a difference it is for me to be dating someone who is really there, present, affectionate and allowing me to feel all the good feelings my happy little soul wants to experience. And he gets to feel special too! Great advice, Bobbi !